Accessibility links

Breaking News

Clinton Presses for Serbia-Kosovo Talks

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits the Bill Clinton statue in Pristina, accompanied by US Ambassador to Kosovo Christopher Dell, 13 Oct 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will work to get Serbia and Kosovo to reconcile over the issue of Kosovo's independence.

Clinton said Wednesday while in the Kosovo capital of Pristina that a dialogue between the two states should begin and conclude as quickly as possible.

Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is recognized by 70 nations. Serbia has refused to recognize the move.

Clinton said Kosovo's independence was no longer a negotiable issue and that Washington had "a list" of additional countries it was contacting to recognize the world's newest country.

The Secretary was in Pristina on the last leg of a Balkans trip designed in part to ease tensions between Belgrade and Pristina.

Clinton arrived early Wednesday in Pristina, where she was greeted by flag-waving ethnic Albanians who lined a motorcade route which included a stretch of Bill Clinton Boulevard.

The roadway is named for her husband and former U.S. president. Bill Clinton is a revered figure in Kosovo for spearheading the 1999 NATO airstrikes on Serbia that halted a deadly crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists seeking an independent Kosovo.

The Secretary also met with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and later visited a minority Serb enclaves near Pristina.

In Belgrade Tuesday, Clinton told Serbian President Boris Tadic that opening a dialogue with Kosovo will have a "positive impact" on Serbian ties with Western governments. Mr. Tadic said he is ready for talks on easing tensions, but will not recognize Kosovo as independent.

Clinton also welcomed Serbian cooperation in efforts to arrest fugitive Serbian war crime suspects who have been in hiding since the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.

Clinton opened her Balkan tour Tuesday in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where she urged the country's Muslim, Croat and Serb leaders to ease sectarian divisions and reform the country's complex political system.

She is scheduled to leave the region later Wednesday for Brussels to meet with NATO defense and foreign ministers.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.